For the movie’s 20th anniversary, GQ interviewed over sixty members of the cast and crew of GoodFellas, the movie that resurrected director Martin Scorsese’s career after the controversy surrounding The Last Temptation of Christ.
As bizarre as it sounds, Henry is the moral center of the movie. He is with a collection of totally amoral, aberrational sociopaths. And he is with them during the early years, when they are the most charming, funny, great guys. They make it so he doesn’t have to go to school; when he gets arrested and he doesn’t say anything and he comes out of court, they’re all waiting for him and cheering him. It was like his birthday, like his confirmation. But you pay a price. The world of the child ends.
The Copacabana scene is considered the gratest steadycam shot of all time, with 400 precisely timed movements. Kristi Zea was the movie’s production designer:
He (Scorsese) wanted a long preamble before they get into the space. The Copa didn’t have a long enough walk before they actually get into the nightclub. So we had to build a hallway, and we literally took the walls away while the camera was in motion, so that they were gone by the time Ray and Lorraine showed up in the main room. The delivery of the camera into that big space had to be done like a ballet. Henry is saying hi to everyone, everyone knew who he was. And then the table flies across the camera and lands smack dab in front of Henny Youngman, and suddenly there’s champagne coming over courtesy of these other guys.